January 6, 2005
Matsumoto's is located on the north shore in the groovy surf town of Haleiwa. The store was started in 1951 as a small grocery store by Mr. Mamoru Matsumoto, an immigrant from Japan. It was a typical small-island grocery store. However, it served shave ice from the back counter. First, locals discovered what I think is the best shave ice in Hawaii, and soon they told their mainland friends; next, it got into a few guidebooks, and today, Matsumoto's main business is shave ice! No more sundries and groceries.
I have been coming here for shave ice for thrity years and have watched the business evolve. More and more guidebooks sang the praises of this little grocery store that sold shave ice. More and more people came and lined up for the best shave ice on the island. Tourist buses unloaded the masses here. They now serve about 1,000 shave ices a day!
Mr. Matsumoto passed away a few years ago, but his kids and grandkids have taken over the business and kept up the same high standards Mr. Mamoru Matsumoto set.
When you arrive, you will see a list of yummy flavors. You can order almost every tropical fruit you can imagine, or go with more modern flavors like bubblegum or root beer. I am a creature of habit and always get the Hawaiian, a combination of pineapple, coconut, and banana. It's oh-sooooo-good! You can also be adveturesome and get azuki beans in the bottom of your cone or ice cream under your ice! I can never get beyond the ono-licious Hawaiian ice and can't venture down those more exotic roads.
The quality is great, and I have to admire the Matsumoto family. They could have easily franchised and had little ice stands all over the islands, but they did not. The shop is not flashy or fake; it still feels like a little north-shore grocery store, but it's now world-famous. However, the family still comes to work daily to shave and pour and keep tourists and locals happy. They keep control of their product with one location and keep pumping out the best shave ice in Hawaii. Don't miss this stop--it's worth the trip!
IMPORTANT FOOTNOTE: It's shave ice, NOT shaved ice. Drop the "d" if you want to sound like you are in-the-know!
From journal Mele Kalikimaka from Honolulu